Earlier this year the death was announced of the veteran Scottish composer Ronald Stevenson, a significant influence at various stages of my musical life. I first encountered his work in a programme note for the QEH performance by John Ogdon of Sorabji’s “Opus Clavicembalisticum” in 1988…in fact, was was seated almost behind him during that legendary event. As this was a period of involuntary “exile” from Scotland, I was fascinated to discover a composer from my own part of the UK, though his scores were not easily come by: this was before the heroic publishing project undertaken by the Ronald Stevenson Society. A decade later, having managed to return to Scotland, I attended a performance of the DSCH Passacaglia in St Andrews played by Murray MacLachlan in 1998, Ronald’s 70th anniversary year: I was, at the time, a “matriculated student” at the onetime seat of learning in that burgh. Another decade was to pass before I spoke to the now octogenarian composer at the celebratory events at St John, Smith Square, and also attended the final Ronald Stevenson summer school held in the diminutive cathedral at Millport, during which I had the honour of performing a couple of Ronald’s smaller organ pieces in concert alongside some illustrious musicians, aswell as playing Shostakovich’s little played organ Passacaglia. I saw him at a few events over the next few years, most notably when Ronald and Marjorie attended a recital including a number of his works which I played with soprano Chloe Foston at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2011.
It was only natural, therefore, that I should want to pay some sort of tribute at the passing of this influential figure: so far I have played four lunchtime concerts in Dundee and Aberdeen; next February, I’ll play a full length recital in Edinburgh Society of Musicians of which he was, until his death, a patron.